Twice a season in a small village just north of Utrecht in the Netherlands something very special happens. Pigs, farmers, fisherman, a giant viking and an army of football supporters come together for the Spakenburg derby. In the red corner we have the good folk at IJsselmeervogels and in the blue corner we're blessed with SV Spakenburg. It's the biggest amateur derby in Holland. It sounds totally bonkers and I am loving it.
IJsselmeervogels were formed in 1932 by a group of fishermen in response to the farmers of Spakenburg who'd formed SV Spakenburg a year earlier. The two clubs have been trying to outdo each other ever since. When one club builds one stand, the other will try and build a slighter bigger and better one. A couple of seasons ago, just for a gag, some IJsselmeervogels fans stole the centre circle at Spakenburg and in the most recent derby they painted a pig blue (as a little dig at the farmers), smuggled it into the ground and let him loose on the pitch before the match.
In the past this fixture was beset by a number of problems. Crowd disorder during the 90's and a bomb thrown at a linesman in 1987 meant that the two clubs were placed in separate divisions between 1995-2002. Things are a lot less sinister nowadays and the traditional pitch invasion that follows each derby is happily a peaceful one.
Both clubs have had their moments. In 1975 the Reds became the first and last club to reach the Dutch Cup semi finals and were thus crowned "Dutch sports club of the Year" and in 1985 the Blues won a league and cup double and became - in the words of club secretary Marjo Hartog - "The best team in the land".
So the Blues then fly a plane overhead with the words ""Hup SVS. Schijt aan de buren", which means "Come on Spakenburg. Shit on the neighbours". It later fires out toilet brushes onto the pitch.
So the Reds fill the ground of their rivals with red smoke. The two grounds are virtually in the same street by the way.
And the Blues get out large blue sticks and so on and so forth. Who won? Who cares just get us a ticket.
EFW spoke to Jim Donkers (of course Jim Donkers) at SV Spakenburg to get a bit more of an insight into this magical fixture. We're sometimes called The Smurfen, like those little blue cartoon people. In the past the reds have been represented by the fishermen whereas we've been seen more as the bourgeoisie. The pig was just a joke from the reds in the last derby - a game where we unveiled a giant blue and white viking as our new mascot. This rivalry is the reason the two clubs reached and always stay at the top, remarkable for a small village with only 20,000 residents.
Sometimes the rivalry goes too far but some families are both red and blue and they're all Spakenburgers - which means they don't accept negativism and will level action against anyone who does harm to one of the two clubs. Normally both clubs attract crowds of between 1500-2000 but for this - the mother of all derbys - around 8-9000 fans attend. EFW is always welcome to visit the derby. There is a beer ban before the match when we drink Cola-Sonnema, which is a herbal drink but after the match there is always a party win, lose or draw. The party is always best on the blue side.
For more photos from the derby head here and there. For some YouTube footage click here. Thanks to Joris at Doing the 116, Pat from Pat's Travel Blog and SV Spakenburg for the photos.
I think we've seen and heard enough to make the Spakenburg Derby the No.1 fixture on the EFW agenda for 2010/11. We'll be at both matches but who to support? The Reds or the Blues?
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